Communication Foundation

The 30-million-word-gap is a concept referring to the language disparity evidenced in low-income children compared to those coming from more affluent households. In recent research (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015) published in Psychological Science, verbal and non-verbal interactions between caregiver and child showed to be more influential for children’s language development than the volume of words spoken by a caregiver. This study was the impetus for further research by the Children and Families Lab.

The lab was awarded a grant to examine the communication foundation between caregivers and children in a sample of low-income, Spanish-speaking, Hispanic children. Dyadic, video-recorded interactions between caregivers and children are being coded for a variety of interaction characteristics such as joint attention. These interactions are being further analyzed for multiple language-based characteristics. This is an ongoing study.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M.T., Golinkoff, R.M., Pace, A., Yust, P.K.S., & Suma, K. (2015). The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children’s language success. Psychological Science, 26. 1- 13.